First off I have to start off saying that it was quite the experience sifting through various baby name databases looking for the perfect one for Marah and Tony’s little bundle of joy. Oh who am I kidding…It was pure torture! Nothing seemed to “fit” what Marah or Tony would name their child and Jonathan had already “stole” the name Sarah. Though I think they chose well the whole process made me pause and think about the concept of the “Soap Opera Name”.
The actual term “soap opera name” usually has a negative connotation to it. Afterall, soap operas are not often taken seriously among mainstream media, this is despite their longevity or the fact that their filming style is more intense than that of television or film. But I digress. Sure some soap opera names border on the outlandish, but they can also be both beautiful and unique.
But more importantly, they can impact social trends. When the character Kayla Brady was introduced on Days of our Lives in the early 80’s the name Kayla suddenly began to leap onto the top baby name lists and stayed there for more than a decade. Soap Operas were also one the first genres to introduce locations as first names. Characters such as India von Halkein on Guiding Light and Sierra Esteban on As the World Turns were trend setting for their names alone!
And for a little personal touch, a coworker of mine shared that she was named after Alexis Colby (portrayed by the always fabulous Joan Collins) from Dynasty.
Soap Opera names can be a lot of things: Different, unique, trend-setting, and beautiful. So for fun let’s look at some of the more interesting ones…
Since Guiding Light will forever be my favorite soap opera I will begin there. And I have to start with my girl Reva Shayne. Though her name was “different” it is an actual name that means “star”. But really, how many Revas do you encounter in real life? Reva said she combined her mother’s name Sarah and Josh’s mother’s name Martha together to get the name Marah for her daughter. It’s a sweet story, though like Reva the name does exist. And it’s meaning…”bitter”. I think I like Reva’s story behind the name better.
Through its many years Guiding Light had numerous characters with unique names. Some examples include: Harley Davidson Cooper who was named after her father’s favorite motorcycle (hate to see if her father had driven a Buick), Melissande “Mel” Boudreau, Roxy Shayne, Fletcher Reade, Meta Bauer, Gillian Grant, Marina Cooper, Hawk Shayne, and can’t forget LUJACK and Maeve!
Some of the early pre-television names were quite interesting to say the least. My personal favorite being the name Torchy.
Now for the others….
As the World Turns didn’t have many unusual character names. They did however have a Sierra before the name Sierra became commonplace. Okay I admit Holden and Lucinda just sound like pretentious soap opera names. Though some of the older character names like Hester and Gunnar could be considered strange by today’s standards. Hester? Channeling some Scarlet Letter action?
I never watched Another World but an internet search turned up the names Lehoma, Wallingford, and Gonzo for the winners. Now I am all for the outlandish and the unique but unless you are a Muppets character the name Gonzo should not be used. Ever. Though I at least get some soap opera fan points for knowing the actor that played Wallingford portrayed Rose’s friend Jonathan Newman on the Golden Girls right?
In addition to Reva, Kim Zimmer also got to play another character with an “interesting” name over on the soap opera One Life to Live. Echo DiSavoy. Yes ECHO! Also included on this list would be Harrison Brooks, Muffy, Suede Pruitt, Euphemia Ralston, and Mortimer of names considered “different”.
Like the sand through the hourglass….Days of our Lives has had characters with the names Calliope which reminds me of Cantilope and the names Greta, Rolf, and Leopold make me think of a production of the Sound of Music. They also have several good dog names: Rex, Bo, and Belle.
The soap opera All My Children had numerous names that could be considered odd to non-soap fans. Greenlee, Woodruff, Millicent, Myrtle, Brot, Alf, Seabone (?) and Ceara are not exactly common names. And not exactly sure they should be… But how about Verla Grubbs played by the always amazing Carol Burnett?
Once again I never watched the soap opera Santa Barbara but Flame and Minx would I think top anyone’s list, unless you plan on your children pursuing a career as a stripper maybe.
The Soap Passions in itself was unusual so of course the show would be a plethora of wacky names to choose from. Fancy, Siren, Tabitha, Esmerelda, and Orville are my top contenders. Though Cracked Connie the psychotic doll isn’t winning any “Top baby name” awards any time soon.
General Hospital: Damien Spinelli is top contendor for worst name on this soap opera. The name Damien always conjours up bad images, probably due to Damien in the Omen. Some others include: Algernon the con artist, Constanza (though called Connie), Maxie, Tonia, Siobhan, and Duke. And though the character’s real name is Lucas Lorenzo he is known to other characters and fans as “Lucky”.
And now good ole The Bold & the Beautful. Proving that things really are strange in Tinsel Town, the show has given us names such as Ridge, Mossimo, Storm, Thorne, Macy, and ZENDE!! But even Zende doesn’t compare to the next one…Whipple “Whip” Jones. Whipple? Kind of hard to imagine a kid with that name NOT getting made fun of on the playground. With a name like that his parents are practically wishing it on him!
On The Young and the Restless there hasn’t been as many wild names as on the other soap operas though it does have a few. The character’s name may have officially been William but viewers know him as Dr. Snapper Foster. Yes Snapper like the lawnmower. And the always fabulous diva Victoria Rowell portrayed rags to riches Drucilla Barber to perfection. And going back to the 80’s there was a character named Boobsie Caswell. Brock, Brooks, Fenmore, and Reed are uncommon names and not likely to be found outside of soap land. More recently one of my favorite couples Billy and Chloe had a daughter named Cordelia “Delia” Abbott, though she was killed off this year. Though the name grew on me after learning that it means “heart”.
So there you have it, some of the more unique names I have uncovered (and at turns laughed at). Some of these should probably remain locked away in the soap opera vault forever. But you never know, perhaps like Kayla Brady on Days of Our Lives the name Zende will finally catch on.